This month, Edmonton was the scene of Canada’s most severe incident of random stabbing to date, despite the fact that it received significantly less attention than other cases of unfamiliar assault.
On the 5th of May, shortly after the conclusion of classes at Crawford Plains School, a mother and child were assaulted by an erratic man who was brandishing a knife and roaming the grounds.
Sara Miller, 11 years old, presumably witnessed the de*ath of her mother. While Carolann Robillard, age 35, perished at the scene, her daughter exhibited signs of life when first responders arrived; however, she succumbed several hours later in the hospital.
The mother and child were ultimately interred within the same coffin.
Witness accounts indicate that the assailant, who lived less than 400 meters away, intended to engage in a stabbing spree within the school grounds. After his attempt to enter the building was thwarted by the “heroic” intervention of a teacher, as described by law enforcement, he appeared to redirect his aggression towards the closest individuals.
Shortly after the stabbing, the alleged assailant succumbed to injuries sustained in an altercation with law enforcement.
Nonetheless, even in the midst of a nationwide crisis involving the release of violent offenders despite the high likelihood of their causing harm to innocent individuals, this case exemplifies the system’s egregious failure to protect the public from a palpable threat to their safety. Muorater Mashar, age 33, had committed repeated violent offenses for at least the previous 14 years. His adolescence was also marred by a troubled record, as evidenced by the fact that he was expelled from high school on at least two occasions for acts of violence; however, any offenses committed during this time period would be concealed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Mashar could have been incarcerated at the time of the attack on Miller and Robillard on May 5 due to a prior conviction. According to the Criminal Code, a single conviction for aggravated assault can result in up to 14 years in prison. Despite accumulating a large number of such convictions, Mashar frequently evaded severe sentences, serving a few months at most.
In 2014, he was given a four-year sentence for a near-fatal assault that occurred at a bus stop in Winnipeg, according to their findings. According to reports, following a dispute with another passenger, Mashar punctured the victim’s aorta and spinal cord with multiple stab wounds.
Nevertheless, Mashar was granted parole despite numerous instances of violence in prison and violations of the conditions of his release. CBC Edmonton obtained a 2018 decision by the Parole Board of Canada that describes him as “unpredictable” and “somewhat paranoid,” with a propensity to manipulate staff.
Two years later, when Mashar used bear spray to attack an Edmonton transit bus, he was sentenced to only eighty days in jail.
In the months preceding the alleged assaults on Miller and Robillard, Mashar manifested a disturbing propensity to assault children without apparent provocation. In April 2022, he attacked a random 12-year-old boy on the LRT in Edmonton, repeatedly striking the child until bystanders restrained him.
Aimee Guilbault, the boy’s mother, told Global News about her son’s disbelief when he learned that his attacker had been released from prison just a few months after his conviction in February 2023.
“Initially, he did not believe me when I told him. He stated, “That man shouldn’t be released just yet.” “My reply was, ‘I concur,'” she recalled.
Even if the possibility that Mashar could have been detained on May 5 is disregarded, there is no impediment to his being held in pre-trial detention while awaiting additional charges stemming from an allegedly arbitrary assault.
In the days immediately following the attack, Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee stated that his officers had recently arrested Mashar on an assault charge stemming from an alleged incident involving a scooter.
“He was brought before a judge, released with conditions, and the charges were subsequently dropped,” McFee told the media. According to Mashar’s records, this was not the first time he had evaded punishment for violent assault charges, some of which had been completely ignored or dismissed. During a brief period in the Edmonton Remand Centre following the assault on the 12-year-old, Mashar allegedly faced no consequences for using feces to assault another inmate.
As McFee lamented in the wake of the May 5th attack, “numerous opportunities for intervention, multiple junctures at which the suspect could have been held accountable and provided with the requisite professional support to manage his conduct, were squandered by the system.”
Particularly over the last two years, Canada has borne witness to a burgeoning crisis of “stranger attacks” – instances of random, occasionally fatal assaults executed without provocation, often occurring in broad daylight. In nearly all cases, the alleged perpetrators are either on parole, out on bail, or both.
Gabriel Magalhaes, 16 years old, was fatally stabbed in a Toronto subway station in March, with no apparent provocation. Three years prior to his 19th birthday, the alleged assailant, Jordan O’Brien-Tobin, had racked up a laundry list of increasingly serious charges. After being granted parole for an alleged sexual assault, he allegedly kil*led Magalhaes only weeks later.
IN RELATED NEWS Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, has echoed Conservative Party sentiments regarding the foreign interference scandal. In particular, he argues that the Liberal government has routinely ignored instances of foreign interference and that David Johnston’s proximity to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disqualifies him from impartially serving as a “special rapporteur” on the matter. Notably, the NDP differs from the other parties in that they continue to support the minority Liberal government and have openly refrained from using leverage in relation to the scandal. However, on Monday, Singh urged the Liberals to dismiss Johnston, albeit with the caveat that they should do so if they so choose, as his support for the Liberals will continue regardless of their decision.